Ilhan Omar Apologizes for Antisemitic Missive After Criticism From Democrat Leaders

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
February 11, 2019Politicsshare
Ilhan Omar Apologizes for Antisemitic Missive After Criticism From Democrat Leaders
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in Washington on Jan. 10, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the first Muslim Congresswoman in American history, apologized again for perpetuating antisemitic tropes after receiving widespread condemnation for her latest theory about Jews.

“Anti-semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar wrote on Feb. 11 in a post on Twitter.

Omar said that people should “always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity.”

“This is why I unequivocally apologize,” she added.

The situation started when Omar responded to a tweet that discussed how Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was reportedly considering Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the other Muslim Congresswoman, for their repeated antisemitic missives and associations.

“It’s all about the Benjamins [money] baby,” she wrote.

The trope in question is that a cabal of Jews secretly controls all manners of things, including governments and politicians, through secret funding.

Batya Ungar-Sargon, the opinion editor of The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, was among those responding to Omar: “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess,” she said.

“Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted,” she added.

Omar gleefully answered, tweeting: “AIPAC!” referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The backlash built to the point that Democratic leaders went on record criticizing Omar, something they had thus far been reluctant to do since she, Tlaib, and fellow newcomer Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) were sworn into office in January.

“Rep. Omar’s use of an anti-Semitic stereotype was offensive and irresponsible. This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress—or anywhere in American society. No one should invoke anti-Semitic tropes during policy disagreements,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other top Democrats condemned Omar’s comments. “We are and always will be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests,” the group stated.

“Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.”

The group called on Omar to apologize, which she did about two hours after the statement was released.

Pelosi said that she personally spoke with Omar and that they “agreed that we must use this moment to move forward as we reject anti-Semitism in all forms.”

While Omar apologized, she did not delete the tweets she was apologizing for.

Omar has received heavy criticism in recent weeks for making a slew of negative comments about Israel and Jews, including comparing Israel to Iran.

In the past, she tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

Omar is also one of the few Congresspersons who support the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to strangle Israel by pressuring countries and companies to stop doing business with the Middle Eastern country.

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